A colleague’s mother died unexpectedly. When he returned from the funeral and the arduous, lonely task of clearing out her home, he had dark circles under his eyes, had lost weight, and was clearly grieving. In a private moment, he told me, “It’s the mysterious things I’m having the hardest time with.” In his mother’s dresser, he’d found a small box. Inside was bubble wrap. Under the bubble wrap was something wrapped in a tissue, and it turned out to be 5 Q-tips. “What could make Q-tips so important?” he asked. “Did she have dementia and I missed it?”

I hope that when the time comes, my daughters won’t be distressed if they find odd discoveries among my things. Case in point: Probably thirty years ago, my friend Worth gave me a tiny measuring cup with ounces marked on the side. The measurements have long since washed off, and now it’s just a shot glass. When she gave it to me, I made an exaggerated fuss about using it to measure the milk for my coffee. Surprise! It turned out that a shot glass of milk is precisely the amount I like. I’ve used that shot glass for my coffee milk ever since, and it’s always out on my counter. Will my kids think I was heavily into alcohol and somehow they missed it? Probably they know me better than that, but I’m taking no steps to pre-correct what might be their conclusion.

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